Monday, March 5, 2012

Biblical Justice

"The biblical notion of justice may be summed up in the principle: To each according to the measure of his real need, not because of anything human reason can discern inherent in the needy, but because his need alone is the measure of God's righteousness toward him. Such justice or righteousness is primarily neither 'corrective' nor 'distributive,' as in the Greek (and American political) view, but 'redemptive,' with special bias in favor of the helpless who can contribute nothing at all and are in fact 'due' nothing. Justice does not depend upon a person's stake in the community. To the contrary, his stake in the community, the very fact that, although an alien or a forgotten man, he comes in effect to belong or still belongs to the community, this depends upon 'justice' being done. Such righteousness does not derive its nature from some already existing proportionate connection individuals have with one another in view of some common good. There took place, of course, a good deal of corrective justice 'in the gate,' where justice was meted out in Israel. There was also much concern through laws regulating the inheritance of family property to maintain every family's stake in the community. Still biblical justice was never primarily concerned with devising some method or other for calculating what is man's 'due.'"

- Paul Ramsey in "Basic Christian Ethics"

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